Romantic musings: What works? What doesn’t?

It’s romance season again as Valentine’s Day approaches. BestSelling Reads has a promotion where you can get great romance novels free or at super-low prices. And there are plenty more bestselling reads for you from many of our members.

We all have our favorite romantic tales, but we’ve all read real stinkers, too. So what works? What makes for a good romance story? What makes you cringe?

BestSelling authors muse about what they love to read in a romance, and what makes them cringe.

Raine Thomas

What do I look for in a romance/love story? I look for strong chemistry from the start, even if the main characters are “enemies.” That chemistry might be reflected through physical attraction, or it might be an attraction to someone’s intelligence, wit, sense of humor, or other positive attribute.

I love it when a character makes an assumption about another character only to be surprised and intrigued once they actually get to know the “real” them.”

Very little makes me cringe in terms of plot points or tropes, as I’m aware there is an audience for all of them! But if a book is poorly edited and/or the main characters constantly make poor, nonsensical choices just to contrive a plot, that definitely makes me cringe!

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Samreen Ahsan

In a romance novel, I like to read slow-burn romance, enemies to lovers, childhood friendships to lovers, forbidden romance and anything that makes it impossible for two lovers to unite. The circumstances could be war, family feud, personal issues or paranormal activities. Two people who slowly grow to love each other with time and not just by their appearances, but who they are.

I’d also love to read from a male protagonist as many of the romance novels (the bestsellers) are from female’s POV unless it is a big hit and the writer decides to release the same story from a male’s perspective (duh).

What makes me cringe is getting physical on the first date or meeting, start kissing the first time they meet or get laid. An instant sexual attraction is one thing but consenting to sleep with the guy she meets for the first time and realize this is love — meh!

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D.G. Torrens

A good romance for me must have layered characters with relatable relationships. It must have depth.

Romance can be tough and I like to be taken on the journey with the characters through their trials and tribulations.

Cringe-worthy one liners encourage me to skip through a book. I want to know their backstory and invest emotionally in the protaganist. If I cannot connect with them, I am unlikely to complete the book.

Visit D.G. Torrens’ BestSelling Reads author page.

DelSheree Gladden

As for what makes me cringe, it’s bad descriptions. Whether it’s those ever-present God-like, chiseled bodies, weird euphemisms for body parts, or emotions that sound like they belong to a 12-year-old, I will put down a book that is filled with cliche descriptions.

In a good romance, I want complex characters and tension. If the characters are too simplistic or the tension is lackluster, the stakes just aren’t there. I want to really get invested and worry about whether or not they’ll overcome whatever is trying to pull them apart. Relationships are hard in real life and people have layers of problems that add to that. Fiction needs to reflect that to be believable.

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David C. Cassidy

My horror novels often involve deeply rooted love stories that are essential to the book.

For me, the magic moment is when that love is tested—by external forces beyond my characters’ control, or internal strife between them—or when they are pitted against tragic circumstances that force their hand in extreme tests of sacrifice.

Sometimes, love can mean the difference between life and death, with decisions made at the price of what we believe is the best—or right—thing to do. It’s not always a happy ending, but that’s life. 

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AJ Llewellyn

I think any good romance should have a genuine love story, a connectedness to it.

What makes me cringe? Gratuitous and poorly constructed sex scenes! Lol.

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Scott Bury

I cannot tolerate any more perfect people in romances, love or sex stories. Even though I wrote one with an ideal female.

I am really over the handsome billionaire and the lover who looks like a god. Give me people I can recognize. People with flaws and weaknesses, who strive daily to overcome or at least work around them. To me, the sexiest organ is the brain.

As for what makes me cringe, it’s ridiculous metaphors, like “the cut of his shoulders were made for a jacket to hang perfectly.”

Visit Scott’s BestSelling Reads author page.

New member: Jennifer Harlow

What do I look for in a romance or love story? What makes me cringe? What I look for in life: mutual respect. Two people discovering each others‘ strengths and weaknesses and being there for one another. Uplifting one another.

What makes me cringe is when the guy takes the woman from a life of misery because she’s poor or “ugly” and it becomes all about him. A guy should never be a gal’s whole world and vice versa.   

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